Nelson Mandela -- centenary of his birth
July 18, 2018 -- The centenary of the birth of Nelson (Madiba) Mandela, the late anti-apartheid activist who ranks as one of the most revered and influential figures of the 21st Century.
The country’s generally free and fair elections since 1994 and a political system that gives black and mixed-race South Africans equal voting and other rights with the country’s minority whites attest to the survival of Mandela’s legacy.
The most remembered of his achievements is his ultimately successful fight, after some 27 years in prison on Robben Island near Cape Town, for an end to the country’s system of race-based discrimination called apartheid. In the years between his release in 1990 and election as the country’s first black president he negotiated with South African President FW de Klerk for the abolition of apartheid and for a peaceful transition to democracy. The two men received the Nobel Peace Prize for their achievement.
South Africa’s president from 1994 to 1999, Mandela died at age 95 in 2013 with a record of accomplishment that is untainted by scandal. He will be remembered formally at the United Nations on the centenary: the UN General Assembly voted unanimously in 2009 to name his birthday Nelson Mandela International Day.
Most towns and cities in South Africa and many around the world will hold special centenary events, and the Nelson Mandela Foundation began organizing its program in Jul 2017.
Mandela’s aphorisms survive. The best known, such as “Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement,” will be threaded through the tributes on the anniversary. In his autobiography, Long Walk to Freedom, he wrote: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.” It could be seen as a call for patience to South Africans worried about the parlous state of the country’s economy and other setbacks.